Gingko Biloba Doesn’t Prevent Dementia

Alzheimers risk was not lower for people who took gingko biloba for 5 years

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Taking ginkgo biloba, an herbal supplement, did not lower the risk of developing dementia. A recent study gave ginkgo biloba to older people with memory problems for five years.

Taking ginkgo biloba did not help them avoid Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).

Ginkgo biloba is a tree. Extracts from the leaves are made into pills and taken as supplements by people all over the world.

"Talk to your pharmacist before taking herbal supplements."

Earlier this year, researchers in Germany at the Maria-Hilf Hospital published a study that showed that people with AD or vascular dementia showed better scores on memory tests after taking ginkgo biloba for 24 weeks.

To see if ginkgo biloba could prevent dementia, researchers, led by Bruno Vellas, MD, of INSERM, the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, in France, asked people to take the supplement for five years.

They enrolled 2854 people over the age of 70 who had told their primary care doctor that they were having memory problems.

People in the study took 120 mg of ginkgo biloba or a placebo pill with no active ingredients two times a day.

The researchers followed people for up to five years. They tracked them to see if they developed AD.

After five years, 2.1 percent of the people taking ginkgo biloba had AD, and 2.6 percent of the people taking placebo had AD. Taking ginkgo biloba over five years did not lower the odds of getting AD.

Dr. Velles’s study was published September 6 in the Lancet. The study was funded by Ipsen, a pharmaceutical company.

Researchers at the Mari-Hilf Hospital, led by Ralf Ihl, MD, published their report in March in Pharmacopsychiatry.

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Review Date: 
September 6, 2012
Last Updated:
September 8, 2012